Sunday, November 28, 2021
Nov. 28, 2021

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Cowlitz coroner fraud case still pending in Clark County court


Longview — Charges against Cowlitz County Coroner Tim Davidson are pending with the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said he is working his way through the Washington State Patrol investigation, as well as the materials from the State Auditor’s Office.

“We are still reviewing the case and have not made a charging decision,” Vu said.

Allegations that Davidson committed fraud broke in April after the State Auditor’s Office found he accepted more than $12,000 in personal reimbursements for travel expenses that had been paid by the county.

Because Davidson is a Cowlitz County official, the case was sent to an outside prosecuting attorney’s office for review.

According to a report from the Auditor’s Office, between February 10, 2016, and May 10, 2019, Davidson was reimbursed $12,602.71 for travel expenses from two organizations, even though the county had paid for his travel.

The investigation was sparked in 2018 when an employee came to the county, and Cowlitz County notified the Auditor’s Office about a potential loss of public funds. In August 2019, the investigation was turned over to the special unit of the state auditor’s office and the WSP.

At the time, Davidson served as president of the Washington Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners and traveled to attend or present at trainings and conferences and for legislative meetings. He also attended International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners conferences and performed accreditation audits on behalf of the association.

According to the report, both associations reimburse individuals for incurred travel expenses if they complete a reimbursement request form and submit receipts.

On Dec. 15, 2020, the auditor’s office interviewed Davidson, who “acknowledged personally receiving reimbursement funds from the WACME and IACME Associations for County-paid travel expenses,” and offered to repay the county, the report said.

After opening the investigation in August 2019, and requesting travel expense reimbursement documentation from the two associations, Davidson made two personal cash deposits back to WACME totaling $14,300 for travel expense reimbursements he had received from them, according to the report.

As the coroner, Davidson is an elected official and the county doesn’t have the legal ability to discipline him. If Davidson were to resign, the county commissioners would be responsible for appointing a replacement.

Because Davidson is responsible for managing his own department’s expenses and budget, it was difficult for the county to track the reimbursements, according to the report.

The auditor’s report recommends the county seek recovery of the $12,600 plus related investigation costs of $21,850 from Davidson or the county’s insurance bonding company.